XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts

Started Oct 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Okay - I have had some time now to fool around with the camera a bit. Before I continue, I should point out I have very little experience with point and shoot cameras and gimmicky cameras. I shoot professionally and use Canon 5D MkIIs for my camera work along with a few prime L lenses for 95% of the stuff I shoot. For my "hobby" cameras I have a Fuji X100 and a Leica M6, as well as a few other film cameras I still use.

That said, I've had a chance to test out the following, albeit very briefly: EXR modes, Intelligent Digital Zoom, High ISO shooting, various Dynamic Range modes, and general camera setup etc. I've also been posting photos direct from the camera (via Eye-Fi) without any retouching (except a resize to 1600px) to my flickr account here. I'll probably do some more formal studio shots over the weekend, since I have two shoots already planned - I may even be able to do a side by side comparison of the X100, XF1 and Canon 5D MkII.

Some initial thoughts:

EXR is the Real Deal´╗┐´╗┐ Almost immediately I was impressed with Fuji's EXR implementation on this camera. I have very limited experience with Fuji's gee whiz sensor technologies in the past, but what I see and experienced on this camera made me impressed. In auto mode, it does a pretty good job of guessing what I'm pointing at or trying to shoot (moving object, landscape, greenery, macro, faces etc etc, the display would read these things as I was composing). It's ability to properly expose just blows away the X100 (which in my case, seemed to struggle often with proper exposure calculations). The preservation of details in highlights and dark zones is impressive.

IQ First Impressions - anything under 800 ISO with this camera has a decent enough grain / noise pattern for me. And I'm really critical about digital noise in small sensor cameras - hell, I don't like the digital noise my 5D has above ISO 1600. Up to 1600 ISO, it's acceptable to me in colour shots, still fantastic in black and white shots. At 2400 ISO, I'm really not liking the colour shots, though the grain pattern in black and white shooting is still very good and reminiscent to me of various Ilford film stocks I like to shoot (like X2 and XP). 3200 ISO and above is only acceptable in black and white shooting mode - just too muddy and bleh in colour or RAW modes.

Based on this, and the fact this is a tiny pocketable point and shooter, I'd consider the above very good ISO performance overall. Remember - I'm really severely critical of digital noise in sensors, so my liking ISO 800 is perhaps you liking ISO 2400 or above on this camera.

I firmly believe Fuji has one of the best JPEG renderers / algorithms / what have you in the business. I've experimented with JPGs from Canons, Nikons, Sonys, Olys, Panys and Fuji cameras, and still nothing seems to come close to what Fuji is doing in their X100 and now apparently in this XF1. I can't test RAW yet (not supported on my Mac or Lightroom yet, this camera is too new) but I rarely shoot RAW on my X100 (its jpeg rendering is that good), and I don't see myself shooting RAW on this camera either.

The Options Available to the Shooter This camera is surprisingly packed with options and choices. I RTFM'ed while the battery was charging and am really impressed with the level of customizations and ability the camera has. You can even manual focus (albeit through a counterintuitive way - the back command dial). Getting to MF is not easy though, unless you reprogram the top Fn button. I'm still exploring all these options.

Macro? Why? I can't figure out why this has a dedicated macro mode. Even when I'm in normal shooting mode, I can close focus the same distance away from an object, compared to being in macro mode and focusing on the same object. Also, I am a bit disapointed that the close-focusing ability doesn't extend through the zoom choices. You can be 5" away from a subject at 25mm, but you have to be about 2 feet (or more) away from the object if you're shooting at 100mm.

Flash The flash seems okay. I used it for some "intelligent digital zoom" photos that double the effective focal length, and it did a pleasing job of filling the entire frame I shot with even light. Shooting flash at wide angle is another matter though, but to be expected with such a small flash and such a wide angle lens. Still experimenting with it.

Well, that's all I got for now on IQ and such. Still fooling around with the camera, already burned down the battery once (I shot a lot of flash shots too). I'm continuing to put photos up at my Flickr account - all of them showing up are direct from the camera with Eyefi, no retouching.

Mark

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-- Mark Prince, CoffeeGeek.com Photos: flickr.com/coffeegeek Twitter: twitter.com/coffeegeek

 Mark Prince's gear list:Mark Prince's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm XF1 Fujifilm X100S Canon EOS 5D Mark II Olympus PEN E-PL1 +18 more
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